San Francisco is one of America’s greatest cities. Located on the coast of beautiful northern California San Francisco is the home to the legacy of America’s western expansion. The city is built from brick and wood and overlooks the spectacular Pacific Ocean from its many hills. You can easily get lost in its architecture and numerous city parks.
San Francisco is also home to some great museums. The city was the epicenter for the American counter-culture scene of the 1960′s and other major civil rights battles such as gay rights and immigrant rights. It was also a major player in the gold rush and inspired much of the memorable music from the past 60 years. Here are some of the best museums you can find in San Francisco.
1. Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz was one of the most notorious prisons in America before it was shut down permanently in 1963. The prison and island were named National Historic Landmarks in 1984. You can visit the prison and walk the grounds and get a great view of San Francisco. The guided prison tour is a little spooky but it is worth it. See the infamous cells and get a feel for the unique prison experience. Find yourself in one of the greatest landmarks of American culture.
2. The Cartoon Art Museum
This is the only museum in America dedicated to cartoons and comics. The museum opened in 1984 as a testament to the importance of comics and cartoons to American and International art culture. The collection ranges from well known cartoons such as Roger Rabbit and Bugs Bunny to more serious and dramatic art cartoons. Whether you are a fan of Looney Tunes or graphic novels or just want to kill some time the Cartoon Art Museum is a great place to visit.
3. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
This museum features some of the best modern art collections in the western United States. It was actually the first modern art museum on the west coast. Here you can find American luminaries and foreign masters right next to each other on the wall. Discover the incredible creativity of 20th Century art in one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. The museum itself is located near the bay and offers great views of the city and the ocean.
4. The Presidio
The Presidio is one of the oldest military installations in the United States. It began as a fortified location in 1776 when the Spanish used it as their military headquarters for the area. It passed hands between the Spanish and the Americans and was finally closed in 1989. That same year it was transferred to the National Park Service. Today you can walk through the area and see decommissioned anti-aircraft guns and neat military bunkers. There is also a beautiful fort built in the area and a great beach for a picnic. This park is located just across the bay from San Francisco.
Opening night for the San Francisco Symphony is promising to be an unforgettable event. The night is complete with guest performances by the renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman and the amazing pianist Lang Lang. The star studded affair proves to be one of a kind, so tickets should be purchased early. The gala is being hosted at the Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco CA.
One of Sam Shepard’s most famous plays is True West, which follows two brothers, one a screenwriter and the other a small time crook. When the dishonest brother uses his con-man techniques to weasel his way into the picture, the brothers are forced to work together. Refusal to work together could destroy their lives forever, so they must set their differences aside and create the screenplay of their lives. The play is being held at the NOHspace in San Francisco.
Project de Congueros featuring Adrian Areas, Javier Navarrette and Julio Areas is going to be playing at Yoshi’s Restaurant and Jazz club. They will be accompanied by Jaz Sawyer who is one of the premiere Jazz musicians of today. RAYBAND is a tribute band to the legendary Ray Charles. For those who love R&B, Jazz and Soul, be sure to make reservations before it’s too late!
When comedy is on the in-flight menu then taking a trip to see Pam Ann is in order. The International Air hostess comes back to the Castro theatre to present her blend of humor. Be sure to make sure the seat is in the upright position and tray tables are stored because this gal will have the audience laughing during the entire trip.
Circus time is here again complete with award winning and death defying acts including stunt artists and clowns. Also, expect to see balloon animals, face painting and a wide range of circus snacks ready to get anyone in the mood. Hosting this incredible day in the park is Ringling Bros. And Barnum Bailey Circus who will be putting on a two hour free show. The entertaining show will be happening in Union Square and will be a prelude to the paid version being held at the Cow Palace Arena.
The sixth annual Flamenco Festival is featuring one of the hottest dancers to come out of Spain in recent history, Jose Maya Flamenco. This Latin heartthrob has opened for pop stars the likes of Marc Anthony and Beyonce and continues to light up the crowd with his moves. He is now touring with his own company and will be performing at the Fort Mason Center: Cowell Theatre in San Francisco.
The one woman musical Absolutely San Francisco is going into its 10th month of playtime. It is described as a dramedy because it deals with everyday life and experiences of the city. The show can be seen at the Alcove Theatre recommended ages are teens and up so don’t delay purchase tickets today.
A visit to the City By The Bay is not complete without touring some of the wonderful museums in the area. Bringing to life the history of the region as well as educating young and old on the subjects of art, history and industry, the museums in San Francisco offer visitors and residents alike many hours of fun and adventure. Some of the best known and most visited include:
Cartoon Art Museum
Located on Mission Street, this colorful institution opens up the world of animation and fantasy art. The exhibits include detailed pieces representing the creators of this industry and design process that goes into cartoons, comic books, video games and even digital animation. The entire history of cartoon art is shown with hands-on projects for the kids, special events that involve the participation of real-life animators and programs that include sneak peeks at upcoming animation features destined for the Internet, live performance or TV and movies.
At Pier 45 on the waterfront, this unusual museum showcases the entire history of coin operated mechanical music instruments, arcade games and more. This is one of the very largest privately owned collections in the world, and most of the games and instruments are in perfect working order. The public is invited to try out the instruments for themselves and there are special presentations that show the actual working mechanisms of the devices. The gift shop has a number of memorabilia items for sale including old photostrips, DVDs that describe the operation of coin operated machines and guide books for the restoration of antique toys and games.
At the Palace of Fine Arts on Lyon Street, this is one of San Francisco’s most popular museums, a must for families and anyone interested in science and nature. Full of hands-on exhibits, the Exploratorium features sections dedicated to the study of astronomy, space travel, the human body, the senses of sight, hearing and touch, world cultures and earth sciences. Kids will love the microscopic world exhibits as well as the math center where geometry comes to life on an extremely large scale that includes a math-oriented playroom. The mind exhibit features everything from puzzles and games to activities that challenge memory, perception and questions about reality versus imagination.
de Young Fine Arts Museum Of San Francisco
Both contemporary art and masterpieces from past centuries are on display at this fine collection of art, located in Golden Gate Park. The museum is divided into sections that focus on American art, African art, Oceanic culture, textiles, photography and much more. Paintings from European masters are constantly finding their way across the Atlantic to this wonderful institution, and the museum is famous for obtaining some of the rarest works on loan from their homes in Europe and elsewhere. There are a number of artists studios on site and the contemporary works of local painters and sculptures is featured throughout the year.
San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art
On 3rd Street just off of Mission, this museum is full of contemporary paintings and other artwork from around the world. Visitors will find there is no end to the exhibits on display here, as well as video screenings and guided tours of the facility, which are in progress all hours of operation. Families who inherit private collections of famous painters often bring their works to this location for temporary display.
San Francisco is a vibrant city that is full of life. The beautiful city has a very active performing arts background and following. There is always a very wide range of of performing arts events happening in San Francisco. Virtually every day there is some type of performing arts event that you can attend, whether it be on a large or small scale. Most of the performing arts events occurring in the city are listed by the City Box Office.
Performing arts events that occur commonly in the city include concerts, plays, jazz and folk-song performances. Herbst Theater, which is famous for being the location of the signing of the U.N. charter, hosts performances quite often throughout the week. It is popular for being host to the breathtaking sounds of the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Symphony.
Another place that regularly host performances includes the Old First Church, which is able to draw quite the crowds. The Orpheum and the Golden Gate Theaters are both popular for being host to a wide range of beautiful musicals.
The museum of the Legion of Honor hosts a variety of amazing organ concerts, which you are also able to hear throughout its galleries. Don’t miss out on the beautiful musical performances of the San Francisco Lyric Opera, which take place at its Florence Gould Theater.
The Fillmore Auditorium is host to a wide range of contemporary bands. These bands are also featured at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, but on a less frequent basis.
A number of jazz festivals occur in the fall and the spring. These are listed in the SFJAZZ calendar, which is available at various locations throughout the city. The city also has numerous jazz clubs, which you can find by searching the San Francisco Lyric Opera web.
Towards the end of September, you can attend the annual blues festival which occurs at various locations throughout the city. There are also a minimum of two amazing bluegrass music festivals occurring each year. These are at Golden Gate Park usually sometime in February and towards the end of September or early October.
If you are a fan of ballet, you can see a world class variety in the city at a very reasonable price of only $10. You can buy standing room tickets for the San Francisco Ballet, which offers outstanding views from the back of the orchestra. The shows can be seen at the stunning War Memorial Opera House.
A variety of plays are also performed quite regularly throughout the city. Some of the popular theaters where these beautiful plays can be seen include the Geary, the American Conservatory Theater, the Curran, the Marines Memorial theatre, and the New Conservatory Theater.
You can also see the wonderful musicals from Broadway and Los Angeles. These are commonly shown at the Golden Gate or Orpheum theater. If you are looking for outrageous excitement, princes and paupers, you won’t want to miss out on the matinees at the Beach Blanket Babylon.
Whether you’re aching for a bit of culture or want to delve into the unbelievable, San Francisco has a museum designed just for you. The city, known for art and culture, doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its choice of museum. If you are planning a trip to San Francisco, there are several museums that should go on your to-do list; here are the top ten!
1 Academy of Sciences
A museum like you’ve never seen, the academy houses an aquarium, a planetarium and a natural history museum under its roof. You can easily spend a day getting lost inside the walls of this wonderful building.
Whether you are traveling with children or are simply young at heart, the Exploratorium may end up being your favorite attraction in the city. With over 650 interactive exhibits, the museum promises fun for all age groups.
3 Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
Interactive galleries make this one of the best Ripley museums ever! From odd animals, unusual artifacts and vampires and graveyards, the museum is both strange and beautiful at the same time.
4 The Walt Disney Family Museum
If you ever wanted a glimpse behind the life and works of the famous Walt Disney, this is the place to look. You’ll leave the campus (yes! Campus!) knowing the man like never before. Be sure to stick around for one of the special screenings of a Disney movie or a lecture given by select guests.
5 Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Warf
Not only can you see the incredibly life-like wax sculptures of past and present stars, but you can learn the secrets behind the art of wax sculpting. Seeing how these sculptures come to life is worth a trip to the museum itself.
6 Winchester Mystery House
No one knows why Sarah Winchester had a house built with over 160 rooms with stairways and passageways leading absolutely nowhere. Tour the home meant to accommodate the spirits that Sarah so deeply believed in and see if you can be the first to figure out the great mystery.
7 USS Pampanito
The WWII submarine is sure to delight military and history buffs alike. Bring along your iPod for an audio tour that features the voices of actual crewmen of the Pampanito.
8 Boudin Museum & Bakery
The historic bakery, still in operation today, offers visitors to the area a tour of their museum where guests can learn about the history of the famous building. Guests can watch the baking team in action and stay for a bite to eat at Bistro Boudin.
9 Contemporary Jewish Museum
The museum is home to exhibits featuring famous Jewish people, works of art and the ideas of groundbreaking persons of Jewish descent. An incredibly modern museum, exhibits tend to be incredibly interesting and thought-provoking.
10 Cable Car Barn & Museum
Perhaps most recognizable for its cable cars, the city has a museum that allows guests to learn the history of this famous mode of transportation.
San Francisco is one of America’s most well-known places to see a play or a concert. This is the case because San Francisco’s well-known performing arts venues offer residents and visitors a fantastic selection of performing arts events that are worth attending.
If you wish to see a play or concert in San Francisco, be sure to visit the area during the summer. Many visitors attend concerts or plays in San Francisco in the summer because most of the area’s performing arts organizations put on festivals and concert series that offer a great selection of plays and concerts from June until Labor Day.
As a result, be sure to visit San Francisco area during the summer to check out some of the festivals and concert series that occur each year in the area. To get you started on your search, here are a few of the most popular festivals and concert series that happen in San Francisco in the summer.
–One event you should consider attending in San Francisco is a concert held during the annual Stern Grove free concert series.
Sigmund Stern Grove is a public performance space located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard. It hosts an annual free concert series each year from June to August that is made possible by the generous support of the City of San Francisco’s Department of Recreation and by private donors. The concert series is quite popular with locals and visitors alike because you can hear a neat selection of jazz, opera, blues and classical music while enjoying a picnic near the grove’s common areas. As a result, be sure to visit the Stern Grove neighborhood during the summer to take in a concert or two at Stern Grove.
–Be sure to check out the Fillmore Jazz Festival held each year in July on Fillmore Street.
The City of San Francisco holds an annual jazz festival each year on Fillmore Street between Eddy and Jackson Streets during the Independence Day holiday. Over 90,000 visitors converge to Fillmore Street to listen to over 50 jazz ensembles as they play classic and modern jazz numbers at one of five different stages that dot the area. Moreover, over 100 vendors also offer patrons a great selection of souvenirs, food and drinks.
–Finally, be sure to check out the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival that takes place from May through October.
The Yerba Buena Gardens are an outdoor multi-use space that are bounded by Mission and Howards Streets as well as 3rd and 4th Streets. The area hosts, music concerts, opera performances, plays and dance recitals from May through October.
At least 90 different free performing arts events occur at the venue each summer that feature specific themes. Some of the most popular events include the lunch time concert series, the Thursday Night Dances and the weekend opera recitals that are performed by the San Francisco Opera Company. There are also many local vendors who sell food, drinks and other items at a fair price. As a result, you can easily find many fun things to do here during the summer that won’t strain your pocketbook.
As you can see, there are many summer festivals in San Francisco that offer visitors a chance to see a play or a concert for free. As a result, be sure to visit these festivals to see why San Francisco is such a fantastic place to see a concert or a play.